In less than three weeks, the 2017 NFL draft will be at full tilt in Philadelphia. Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to fill the Benjamin Franklin Parkway over the course of the three-day event, a number of them Eagles faithful who will be in full throat when the host team gets on the clock.
What name will they hear called out?
After running through various scenarios, this much seems clear: They’ll have a chance at getting a real difference-maker at No. 14, almost regardless of how the first 13 picks play out. Here is one man’s opinion on the top three options should they fall to the Eagles in Round 1:
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
I have two thoughts on this one: (1) I think the Eagles like him and (2) I think he might be off the board when they pick. If he’s not, McCaffrey has to be a consideration. A triple threat, he set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards as a sophomore (3,864), running for more than 2,000 yards while catching 45 passes for 645 yards and returning both a punt and a kick for a touchdown. He’s not a traditional back, but then Doug Pederson’s offense doesn’t really call for one. In this scheme, the ideal running back is one who can be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. McCaffrey has legit wide receiver skills. He could really help make this offense go.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Part of what attracted the Eagles to Joe Douglas, now the team’s vice president of player personnel, is that he came up in the Ravens system under Ozzie Newsome. There is a desire to fill this roster with the type of hard-nosed, football-consumed, contact-craving players the Ravens have become known for. The position they’re most closely associated with, of course, is linebacker. Doesn’t Foster seem like a total Baltimore pick? In Philly, his top-shelf athleticism and killer instinct would make defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz giddy and take that defense to a whole new level. Some worry about how he might fit with Jordan Hicks. I don’t. I think you could keep Hicks in the middle, plug Foster in at weakside and just let them eat.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
I had a similar experience with Davis as I did with Oakland Raidersedge rusher Khalil Mack a few years back: I turned on the video and became instantly convinced he would be a star. Feel free to use this as ammo against me later, but I think Davis is the best receiver in this class by a pretty good margin. The NCAA’s all-time leader in receiving yards (5,285), Davis caught 97 passes for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season. He has the size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds), the athleticism and the route-running precision necessary to do some special things in this league. While receiver is not as pressing a need after signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, neither is guaranteed to be with the team long-term. Regardless of the state of the position, teams that pass on Davis might end up kicking themselves.
Honorable mention: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee; Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU; Charles Harris, DE, Missouri